As a school principal, you are constantly faced with conflicting priorities: managerial, budgetary, compliance, risk management, facilities and, most importantly, educational outcomes.
“Keeping kids safe is our first priority”, says Jim Seumanu, Principal at New Zealand’s Westmount School. “But after that, our most important priority is education; it is our core business. So, when I make a decision about school facilities, I am always thinking about what is best for the students and their education.”
Upgrading and updating facilities offers a school the opportunity to refresh their learning and teaching areas, making them more aligned with modern-day effective learning principles. One such principle is the movement toward ‘flexibility’ in learning spaces. However, with these changes comes the accompanying problems.
“When you have flexible open education spaces, you have to pay attention to the problem of acoustics”, says Jim Seumanu. “If your students can’t hear you, how are they supposed to learn?”
Jim set this challenge to Unispace’s Matthew Hill. There is a general recognition that in open area learning spaces, the base level of unwanted noise is likely to increase as students work collaboratively together. The challenge here was therefore one of finding a way to drop the floor level of ambient noise in the open learning spaces at Westmount School’s Palmerston North Campus. Matthew turned to Acoufelt™.
“When you have flexible open education spaces, you have to pay attention to the problem of acoustics”
Acoufelt is all about Making Quiet™ in working, living and learning spaces. Acoufelt uses a holistic approach based on its Acoustic FWC™ philosophy. It views every room as a cube with six sides, one floor, four walls and a ceiling. Each surface is an opportunity to reduce noise.
The Acoufelt Acoustic FWC™ philosophy does not demand that every surface be used to reduce noise, rather that every surface is appropriately considered. When the objective is to reduce the floor of ambient noise in the school, the floor is the perfect starting point. It was also the largest unbroken surface in the space.
In the case of Westmount School, an acoustic floor solution was required. For increased noise absorption results, Acoufelt QuietBack™ carpet tiles offered a significant opportunity for helping to reduce noise.
Matthew Hill specified QuietBack™ from the Flinders Collection, in a custom size plank format. The plank format allowed the carpet to be installed in an engaging pattern, using a blend of solid tones in breakout areas to enhance the aesthetic of the space. Whilst functional and visually stimulating, the installation most importantly mitigated the acoustics problem.
“We are loving the acoustic performance of the space”, says Jim Seumanu.